Currency issue all set to rock winter session of Parliament
By Gyan VarmaAnuja
Sun, Nov 13 2016. 11 55 PM IST
A disruption over the demonetization issue can be a cause of worry for the government which is planning to push three bills on GST.
Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan and the government have called for all-party meetings to discuss the issues before the session starts on 16 November. Photo: HT
New Delhi: A stormy winter session awaits Parliament later this month with the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and opposition parties already at loggerheads over the withdrawal of Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes.
“We feel the single biggest issue that we will raise in the winter session is the fallout of the demonetisation policy and the amount of inconvenience it has caused the common man. We want to know from the Prime Minister and the government what planning they had in place to roll this out and what are they doing to ease the process for people,” a senior Congress leader from the Lok Sabha said, requesting anonymity.
Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan and the government have called for all-party meetings to discuss the issues before the session starts on 16 November.
The disruption can be a cause of worry for the government which is planning to push three bills on the goods and services tax—a central GST bill, an integrated GST bill and yet another bill to guarantee compensation to states for losses arising from the transition to GST. These will spell out the fine print of the GST’s design and lay down the basis for rules that will be formulated under GST.
“This is an extremely important session for the government because bills related to GST will come up. The government is ready for discussion on all issues. If the opposition raises issues about the recent anti-corruption decision (demonetization) of the government, we are also ready give our point of view and take part in the debate,” said a senior Union minister, requesting anonymity.
Senior leaders of the NDA also said that the government would be keen to discuss foreign policy matters especially after the US election victory of Donald Trump. “We expect that the opposition parties will demand a debate on the foreign policy of the country and how it will be affected by the victory of Donald Trump. We also expect opposition parties to raise the ongoing firing along Indo-Pak border, surgical strike and a recent decision to ban a news channel. We are ready to discuss all these issues,” the NDA minister said.
The government is also keen to pass the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015, Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 and The Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 in the winter session. The government is planning to bring an amendment to the Right to Education Act to abolish the no-fail policy for elementary schools (Classes I-VIII). Once amended, the act will allow states to conduct examinations in schools if they wish to do so, which is not allowed now under the Act.
“We are yet to take a final decision on our Parliament strategy but how can legislative business take place when people continue to suffer? The government needs to give answers to some tough questions,” the Congress leader added hinting that the issue could become a flashpoint in the upcoming session.
Other issues which the Congress plans to take up include the suicide by a former serviceman over One Rank One Pension, detention of opposition leaders, an alleged clampdown on freedom of speech, the killing of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) members who had escaped from the Bhopal Central Jail in Madhya Pradesh and the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
“People are affected by the government decision to notify 500 and 1000 rupee notes. The opposition sees an opportunity to build this as a constituency. The opposition will try to corner the government in Parliament,” said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst.